The Shankaracharya Temple is a beautiful Temple devoted to Lord Shiva. It is located at an altitude of 1000 meters from the city of Srinagar of Jammu and Kashmir. It is believed to derive the name of Shankaracharya from Adi Shankaracharya, the great philosopher, who came to this place a few centuries ago with the aim of spreading Sanatan Dharma.
This temple is also called Jyesteshwara Temple. It lies on top of Gopadari Hill(also called Shankaracharya hill and previously called Takht-e-Sulaiman during Mughal era) on a solid octagonal rock base. There are 243 steps and 23 landings which leads to the temple platform. The height of the chief building is 30 feet. The inside of the temple is a roundish small chamber where the sacred Shiva Lingam is present.
There is an inscription written in the Persian language inside the temple.
About the Temple:
Many different theories prevail about its existence. Some believe it was a Buddhist temple till Adi Shankaracharya’s visit and then turned into a Shiva temple. Others are of the view that King Sandiman, who was the ruler of Kashmir around 2630 BC built the ancient temple. Later Hindu kings such as Gopaditya, Lalitadtya, and Sandimati repaired it. Zain-Ul-Abidin reinstated the roof which was damaged due to an earthquake.
It is also said that the temple was built by King Gopadatya about 370 BC and the temple’s earlier name Gopadri. For centuries it remained as an old ruined site where once Lord Shiva was worshipped. Only in the middle of 19th century, the Governor of Kashmir, Sheik Moin-Ud-Din repaired it and named as Shankaracharya temple and the people re-started worshipping and visiting the temple.
The bust of Adi Shankaracharya in white marble was placed in the temple in 1961.
When to visit:
It is best to visit the temple during the month of September or October or in early winter.
How to reach:
One may trek to this temple from the Durga Nag Temple or reach up to the bottom of the temple which falls on the Boulevard road via car or taxi.
The nearest rail station is about 300 km away and the airport is only about 25 km from this temple.
Although the temple remains open till 8 p.m. it is advisable to reach the temple before 5 p.m. as there is a restriction on 4 wheelers after that time.
This temple is maintained by Archeological Survey of India and also a protected site. Cameras and mobiles are not permissible to be carried in the temple. The night view from the temple is a magnificent one, where one can see the twinkling city lights. With the backdrop of snow-covered mountains, the Shankaracharya temple is a beautiful place to visit.
Featured Photo by public.resource.org